Nebraskans call for U.S. Senators to vote YES on immigration bill

press_conf_062713Today, a large, diverse collection of Nebraskans gathered at the Roman L. Hruska Federal Court House in Omaha to urge Nebraska U.S. Senators Mike Johanns and Deb Fischer to vote “Yes” on S.744 — the historic bipartisan Senate immigration bill — to create a clear and attainable process for residency and eventual citizenship for aspiring Americans.  Nebraskans urged the senators to vote “Yes” to modernize our country’s antiquated immigration laws and provide a strong foundation for Nebraska’s families, communities, economy and future.

More than 40 Nebraska groups — with memberships including thousands of people — representing business, agriculture, faith, civic, children’s, families’, and workers’ interests, called on the Senators to move the bill forward.

“Thousands of Nebraskans want immigration reform that reflects our values, keeps families united, and helps our economy and communities flourish,” said Darcy Tromanhauser, director of Nebraska Appleseed’s Immigrants & Communities Program.  “The Senate’s bipartisan bill is a historic opportunity to modernize our antiquated laws, create a clear and sensible process for citizenship, reunite kids, parents and spouses, and provide a strong foundation for Nebraska’s future.”

S. 744 would update our antiquated immigration laws, help reunite families to create better health and education outcomes for children, boost our economy and cut $200 billion from the deficit in the first 10 years, and provide a solid foundation for our future.

“As a young person, I know that not one of us is whole without our family,” said Viridiana Alamanza, coordinator of the DREAMers Project coalition. “And yet our outdated laws regularly separate parents and kids, husbands and wives, sisters and brothers – or leave Nebraska youth living with the fear and uncertainty of that separation. How does that make our communities strong?”

“The need and justification for fixing our nation’s broken immigration system are beyond reasonable dispute,” said Jim Cunningham, Executive Director of the Nebraska Catholic Conference.  “Comprehensive immigration reform with a clear and attainable path to citizenship is in our nation’s vital, best interest.  The great hope of the Nebraska Catholic Bishops Conference is that Congress and the Administration will continue to seize this opportunity to move forward with genuine progress and that Nebraska’s senators will vote to move forward this legislation.”

“Our ability to assimilate immigrants from diverse cultures is unique and one of our great strategic advantages as we compete in the global economy,” said Jim Partington, Executive Director of the Nebraska Restaurant Association.  “A bipartisan approach to comprehensive immigration reform will enable us to improve border security, sustain economic growth, support the rule of law and align our policies with our values. By keeping open the opportunity to pursue the American Dream for today’s hard-working immigrants, we honor the courage and entrepreneurial spirit that brought so many of our ancestors to the United States and ensure the future vitality of our free-market economy and democracy. It’s time to move the bipartisan Senate bill forward.”

“I have the honor of working with faith communities throughout Nebraska, of meeting people in church basements and hearing their concerns and ideas,” said Marilyn Mecham, Executive Director of Interchurch Ministries of Nebraska. “I continue to see an increase in support for workable and humane immigration laws. Why? Because people of faith value the sacred humanity of all people and we see how we are all negatively impacted by our outdated laws.”

“As a small business owner, I work side by side with my employees, and I know we all want the same things for our families.  However, the immigration system in this country is broken; it doesn’t work for employers or employees and this hurts Nebraska families and businesses,” said Jerry Kuenning of the Nebraska Cattlemen.  “It’s time to update our laws so they are sensible and make families, communities and our economy strong.”

Additional contacts:

  • Jim Cunningham, Nebraska Catholic Conference, 402-477-7517
  • Kristen Hassebrook, Nebraska Cattlemen, 402-475-2333 (Nebraska Cattlemen are available by phone for interviews.)
  • Marilyn Mecham, Interchurch Ministries of Nebraska, 402-202-2005
  • Jim Partington, Nebraska Restaurant Association, 402-488-3999
  • Sergio Sosa, Heartland Workers Center, 402-933-6095

A partial list of participants in Thursday’s gathering included:

ACLU – Nebraska
Anti-Defamation League – Plains States Region
Black Men United
Brown Immigration Law, LLP
Building Bright Futures
Campbell’s Nurseries and Garden Centers
Catholic Charities of Omaha
Carpenters Union Local 427
Center for People in Need
Center for Rural Affairs
Central Nebraska Human Trafficking & Immigration Outreach
Centro Hispano Comunitario (Columbus)
College of St. Mary
Creighton Center for Service and Justice
El Centro de las Americas (Lincoln)
Heartland Workers Center
Inclusive Communities
Interchurch Ministries of Nebraska
Justice for Our Neighbors – Nebraska
Latino American Commission of Nebraska
Latino Center of the Midlands
League of Women Voters
Malcolm X Memorial Foundation
Multicultural Center of Grand Island
NAACP – Lincoln
National Association of Social Workers – Nebraska Chapter
National Council of Jewish Women – Omaha Section
Nebraska AFL-CIO
Nebraska Appleseed
Nebraska Catholic Conference
Nebraska Cattlemen
Nebraska Conference of the United Methodist Church – Risk Taking Mission & Justice Ministries
Nebraska Restaurant Association
Nebraska Retail Federation
Nebraska State Dairy Association
Nebraska Urban Indian Health Coalition
Nebraskans for Peace
Omaha Together One Community
Sisters of Mercy, West Midwest Community
SSCA Omaha – Serving All Refugees
St. Mary’s Immigration Program (Grand Island)
Voices for Children in Nebraska
YWCA – Lincoln

For more information about Thursday’s press conference, or further interview requests, contact Nebraska Appleseed Communications Director Jeff Sheldon at (402) 438-8853 or jsheldon@neappleseed.org

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